Economist: Unemployment rate may not reflect real economic conditions after job search change


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JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska's unemployment rate was 6.3 percent last month, unchanged since January. But a state labor department economist says the downward trend in the rate since last fall may not reflect real economic conditions.

Alaska's labor department says the seasonally adjusted rate fell sharply during the second half of 2014 after a relatively stable period. The department cited as a factor fewer unemployment insurance claimants after the September implementation of new work search requirements.

Economist Caroline Schultz says there could be an increase in claim denials or people may have decided not to continue applying. But she says the department currently lacks those details.

Aside from the claims issue, Schultz says she would have expected stability in the rate consistent with the first half of 2014, when the rate was around 6.9 percent.

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